WIX Filters, a global manufacturer of filtration products, has implemented a “goods-to-person” picking strategy for its master distribution center in Gastonia, N.C., based on a newly installed automated shuttle storage and picking system.
The new system is an expandable, two-aisle Stingray Shuttle System that uses robotic shuttles to pick products and fulfill orders for WIX’s automotive, agricultural, industrial and specialty filter customers. TGW Logistics Group, a global supplier of highly dynamic automated logistics solutions for warehousing, production, order picking and distribution, installed the system last summer.
“The new system replaces a manual, labor intensive process that involved someone physically touching every single order,” said Robert Foy, operations manager for WIX’s master distribution center. “With this new technology, we have improved our on-time delivery, reduced fill errors and added fulfillment capacity to respond to new growth opportunities.”
A warehouse management system (WMS) controls the movement and storage of inventory at WIX’s master distribution center. Once the WMS determines an order has been placed for a quantity less than a case, it releases the order to the Stingray shuttle and picking system for fulfillment.
The system includes two aisles of Stingray shuttles with Twister load handlers storing nearly 18,000 cartons and totes. In addition to the new shuttle system, WIX also installed an automated conveyor sortation system that connects the shuttle system to four ergonomically designed picking work stations that includes replenishment and pack stations.
Greg Dillman, Senior Vice President for North American Operations for Affinia Group Inc., the parent company for WIX, said, “the new system is part of a global strategy to increase WIX’s product offerings.”
“Capacity is the hallmark of the system,” said Dillman, who began his career at Affinia as distribution manager for WIX’s MDC. “We are already producing more than 12,000 different product numbers and the automated shuttles will allow WIX to increase its product range in the years ahead. The new system also allows us to respond to changes in how the industry is placing orders. As a result, we are more efficient in fulfilling smaller, more frequent orders to better meet the needs of our customers.”
The automated storage and retrieval system increases warehouse efficiency by reducing or eliminating manual warehouse operations, which enhances labor productivity, improves worker and product safety, and achieves high inventory and order accuracy. Since installation, WIX has tripled productivity efficiency, optimized space utilization in the packaging of parts and improved customer satisfaction on order-fill efficiency.
“These efficiencies are especially important for a distribution center that moves tens of millions pieces of inventory annually,” Foy said.
“From national retailers to small business owners, customers prefer to reduce the amount of inventory they carry,” he added. “If they sell one filter, they want to reorder only the filter that was sold. The Stingray Shuttle System allows WIX to respond to customers’ inventory replacement needs, however small.”